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Editorial Results (free)

1. Rape Kit Controversy Continues After Report -

This week’s report by former U.S. Attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis on the city’s backlog of more than 12,000 untested rape kits is unlikely to be the last word on the controversy.

Coleman-Davis concluded that no one involved in the 30-year backlog “willfully or maliciously conspired to deny due process.”

2. Rape Kit Backlog Report Finds No Blame -

The city’s report on the largest backlog of untested rape kits in the country concludes there was “no malice or wanton disregard or conspiracies” to ignore police and other policies governing the handling of such cases.

3. Wharton Releases Rape Kit Backlog Report -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. released the report he commissioned earlier this year on the city’s backlog of 12,000 untested rape kits.

The report by former U.S. Attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis concludes the city has made changes in how it handled the backlog as well as current rape cases. It also says an investigator hired by the Memphis Police Department in 1997 died years later, leaving no filing system for thousands of rape kits from multiple jurisdictions kept at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center. From there, the rape kits were kept at the Old Allen police precinct.

4. Luttrell Opens Campaign With Warning -

The way Mark Luttrell sees it, his campaign for mayor in 2014 is different than his campaign four years ago because then he was challenging an incumbent and now he is the incumbent.

5. Plough Foundation Makes Challenge Grant on Rape Kit Backlog -

The Plough Foundation has made a $750,000 challenge grant toward the estimated $6 million in funding the city of Memphis says it needs to clear the city backlog of more than 12,000 untested rape kits.

6. Michael Meets Resistance in Juvenile Court Campaign -

Dan Michael has worked for the last two Juvenile Court judges and hopes to succeed the latest, Curtis Person Jr., with the August election results.

7. Norris Defends Rape Kit Backlog Approach -

State Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville says the Tennessee Legislature wants to know the size of the statewide problem of untested rape kits, an explanation of why it happened and a credible plan for eliminating it before coming up with funding to deal with the problem.

8. Rape Kit Backlog Report Tracks Complex Path -

The former federal prosecutor investigating the city’s untested rape kit backlog says clearing the backlog will mean more than an investment in testing the rape kits for DNA.

“Stop and think. These kits are going to be tested,” said former U.S. Attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis on the WKNO-TV program “Behind The Headlines.”

9. Filing Frenzy -

Until Tuesday, no one was running for the District 7 seat on the Shelby County Schools board. No one had pulled a qualifying petition from the Shelby County Election Commission until just two days before the filing deadline for candidates on the August election ballot.

10. Brown’s Contempt Hearing Reflects Political Skirmish -

Joe Brown’s bid to unseat District Attorney General Amy Weirich in the 2014 elections probably wasn’t supposed to begin this way – in a courtroom dispute with Juvenile Court that has nothing to do with Weirich.

11. Second Rape Kit Lawsuit Names More Officials -

The second federal lawsuit since December over the Memphis Police Department’s backlog of 12,000 untested rape kits casts a wider net of defendants than the first lawsuit, including the current and former Memphis police directors and the current and former district attorneys general.

12. Editorial: MPD’s Handling Of Rape Cases Pitiful -

Old-time cops call it the “belt buckle brigade.”

The brigade is summoned when law enforcement in our community calls a press conference to announce something they have done. Usually it’s a case they have solved.

13. Backlog Backlash -

The first thing Veronica Coleman-Davis wanted to do was take a look at where thousands of untested rape kits had been stored over the last 30 years.

The former U.S. attorney is investigating how the backlog came to be. It’s an effort that, until her appointment in February by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., had been pointed at clearing the backlog with no answers from any of the players in the criminal justice system about how the backlog happened in the first place.

14. Criminal Justice Issues Likely to Dominate Races -

Expect to hear a lot between now and August about how the local criminal justice system does or does not work.

With Thursday’s filing deadline for candidates in the May 6 county primaries, two races for offices that are part of the system advanced to the August ballot.

15. Rape Kit Backlog Plan Outlined -

As Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. announced Wednesday, Feb. 12, that the city would have help from a national nonprofit on the Memphis Police Department’s backlog of 12,000 rape kits, criticism was growing of the problems in the local criminal justice system that led to the backlog.

16. Michael Opens Campaign for Juvenile Court -

Chief Juvenile Court Magistrate Dan Michael says he is prepared if his opposition in the race for Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court judge tries to make an issue of reforms underway at the court.

17. Leadership Memphis Announces Board Members -

Leadership Memphis has announced new board members and officers for its new fiscal year.

The officers and executive committee include Eric Robertson, chair; Beverly Jordan, vice chair; Bryan Ford, treasurer; Veronica Coleman Davis, secretary; Chris McLean, immediate past chair; Jeff Gaudino, alumni chair; Christine Munson, development chair; Lemoyne Robinson, program chair; and Jeane Chapman, marketing chair.

18. Events -

Mothers of the NILE will hold a Mother’s Day banquet Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church Broad Avenue, 2935 Broad Ave. Dr. Kriner Cash will be the featured speaker. The dinner is open to the public. For reservations, call Veronica Coleman-Davis at 592-5817 or Myra Stiles at 272-3819.

19. Events -

The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence will hold its annual conference “The New Nonprofit Sector: Redefined, Retooled and Resilient” Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Clark Opera Memphis Center, 6745 Wolf River Blvd. Sonal Shah, head of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Social Innovation and Civil Participation, will speak. Cost is $99 for members, $150 for nonmembers and $65 for students. For reservations, call 684-6605 or visit www.npexcellence.org.

20. One Claim Dismissed For Lee, Others Linger -

A judge has dismissed claims filed this summer by a private citizen against the former president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division and two of his attorneys.

That ruling sets the stage for one more unusual turn of events in what’s been a sometimes bitter court fight over a legal settlement the city of Memphis paid this summer to former MLGW head Joseph Lee.

21. Ruling Allows City To Switch Sides In Lee Suit -

The city of Memphis can switch sides in a lawsuit against the former head of the city-owned utility company in an attempt to recoup money the city paid this summer to that official, a judge decided Tuesday morning.

22. Council to Tease out Snarls Surrounding Lee Case -

The city of Memphis, under Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery, has hired a private attorney to recoup settlement money the city paid this summer to the former head of the city-owned utility company.

23. Update: City Attorney Resigns -

The day after Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton Jr. beat his rivals handily in the city mayoral special election, embattled City Attorney Elbert Jefferson Jr. offered his resignation.

Wharton anticipates taking office no sooner than Oct. 26, which would leave the city’s law division under the control of Deputy City Atty. Veronica Coleman-Davis for now.

In his resignation letter to Wharton, Jefferson volunteered to step aside as head of the division but said he wants to continue working for the city in some capacity. His request comes in the wake of a simmering feud between the temporary city administration of Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery, who soon will return to his Memphis City Council seat, and the legal division, with the city administration finding several recent decisions out of the office to be questionable.

A suspension hearing had been scheduled for Monday by state prosecutors in Shelby County Criminal Court, during which they were seeking to have Jefferson stripped of his duties. Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons’ office started an ouster proceeding against Jefferson under a little-used provision of state law that allows public officials who are found to have neglected their duties to be removed from office.

Jefferson resisted Lowery’s attempts to remove him, which included being told to leave City Hall the day Lowery took his oath of office this summer. Jefferson, locked out of the building, filed and won a Chancery Court injunction that allowed him to continue working, and the matter went to the City Council.

The Council declined to give Jefferson the boot. Since around Labor Day, he’s been out on sick leave.

The full text of his resignation letter is as follows:

Dear Mayor Wharton:

Let me first congratulate you on your election as Mayor of this great city. Please accept my most sincere best wishes for a successful administration.

I fully recognize your right and desire to appoint division directors who you believe will best further the objectives of your administration, and I am therefore tendering herewith my resignation as the City Attorney (Legal Division/Director) of Memphis, Tennessee, to be effective immediately.

Though I am presently on sick leave, it is my hope that I will be released to return to work with the city of Memphis on Monday, October 19, 2009. As you may be aware, I have a number of years of service with the City of Memphis and its various agencies and in light of that and other personal and business considerations, it would be my desire to continue my service to the citizens in some capacity. While I fully recognize that my employment with the City of Memphis is by virtue of an appointment and not pursuant to any civil service provision, I would request that you consider my continued service to the City in some capacity which you may feel appropriate. Under the circumstances, I would ask that you or your representative advise me at your earliest opportunity as to your desires with regards to that employment so that I may take appropriate action with regard to benefits to which I may be entitled.

I may be contacted prior to Monday morning at my cell number which is available through the City Attorney’s office. In the absence of advice from you or your representative to the contrary, I will report to the office of the City Attorney on Monday morning assuming I am released to do so by my physician.

Yours very truly,

Elbert Jefferson Jr.

...

24. Update: City Attorney Elbert Jefferson Resigns -

The day after Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton Jr. beat his rivals handily in the city mayoral special election, embattled City Attorney Elbert Jefferson Jr. offered his resignation.

Wharton anticipates taking office no sooner than Oct. 26, which would leave the city’s law division under the control of Deputy City Atty. Veronica Coleman-Davis for now.

25. Halbert Files Ethics Complaint Against Deputy City Atty. -

Memphis City Councilwoman Wanda Halbert has filed complaints with the state disciplinary board for lawyers against Deputy City Attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis and a private attorney working for the city.

26. Baker Donelson’s Williams Appointed To Volunteer Leadership Role at ILTA -

Merideth L. Williams has been appointed to the volunteer leadership role of conference vice president in the International Legal Technology Association. She will work with other volunteers in the delivery of educational programming to members of ILTA.

27. Wrangling Expected Before Juvenile Court Ruling’s Appeal -  

The loser was expected to appeal.

But the Shelby County Commission will have a debate at the very least and possibly a close vote before any appeal of this week’s Tennessee Court of Appeals ruling on a second Juvenile Court judge’s position is approved.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled this week that the Shelby County Commission cannot fill a second Juvenile Court judge’s position.

The ruling not only reverses a Chancery Court ruling and plans by a majority on the Commission, it also holds that part of a private act by the Tennessee Legislature is unconstitutional. Passed in 1967, the law provided for a second judge’s position.

The commission was not unanimous when it voted to create the position but did not fill it.

The move in early 2007 by the commission prompted Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person Jr. to file the lawsuit the appeals court ruled on this week.

“It’s always been very clear, to me anyway, that this power could never be delegated by the Legislature,” Person, a former state legislator, told The Daily News.

“A court without a judge is an anomaly,” he added, quoting from the court ruling. “It was something that I felt I had to do to protect the court and to determine the future of the court. Therefore it had to be dealt with. It’s a huge constitutional issue.”

Hot air ahead

Person noted it is the second ruling of its kind from an appeals court panel on the issue in the past year. The previous lawsuit involved a city court created in the city of Jellico, Tenn.

“This opinion is much longer and has a lot more detail in it … about why it can’t be done,” Person said.

Commissioner Deidre Malone, who led the charge for the second judge’s position, said Monday she was disappointed by the decision. But she also said she would ask the commission to appeal the ruling to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

“My recommendation is going to be that we appeal,” Malone said. “My hope is that we kick it up to the state Supreme Court.”

The possibility of an appeal came as no surprise to Person.

“Certainly they have that right,” he told The Daily News.

Commission Chairwoman Joyce Avery was opposed to the second judgeship and praised the court’s decision.

“I think the court ruled in a correct manner. I always felt that Judge Person was elected as judge and he should remain as judge without two judges,” Avery said.

The differing opinions that remain are an indication that more debate is ahead before the commission decides on an appeal.

“There will be a lot of debate,” Avery said at the end of a nearly four-hour meeting with a relatively short agenda that did not include word of the ruling. “As you’ve seen today, commissioners like to talk.”

Catch-22

In 1967, Person supported passage of the private act in his role as a state legislator. The legislation unified what had been separate juvenile courts in Memphis and Shelby County.

The commission’s action and the appeals court ruling focused on a part of the private act known as “Section 20.”

The section created a second division of the unified Juvenile Court and authorized the County Commission to appoint a judge to that division.

The legislation also included a clause that said if Section 20 was ever declared unconstitutional, the rest of the legislation would stand on its own.

“We have concluded, however, that the General Assembly did not create or establish a court because it did not provide for the judgeship,” read the appeals court opinion written by Judge Patricia J. Cottrell. “While the General Assembly may have begun the process of establishing a court, it did not complete it. Because we find that Division 2 was not created in 1967, and, in fact, has not existed since that time, we find this argument by the commission inapplicable.”

Appeals court Judges Frank G. Clement and Richard H. Dinkins agreed for a unanimous opinion.

Chaotic times

Malone proposed the second judge’s position following Person’s election in the 2006 county elections. Avery and other critics argued the drive to create another position was a response by those who backed Veronica Coleman-Davis, who lost to Person in the election.

Malone and proponents argued a second and even third or fourth judgeship would not cost the county any more money and could replace a system of Juvenile Court referees who work under the Juvenile Court judge. The system of referees was put in place during the 40-year-plus tenure of the late Kenneth Turner, who did not have a law degree.

Person also served as a referee during Turner’s tenure as Juvenile Court judge.

He argued more than one judge controlling the direction of the court would create “chaos” and insisted the system of referees works well.

Critics of the current system pointed to other criminal and civil courts that operate efficiently with multiple divisions and one judge who serves as the administrative judge, usually on a rotating basis.

But Person points to a footnote in this week’s ruling that he said demonstrates the unique nature of Juvenile Court.

“Judges have duties regarding administrative aspects of the courts,” the footnote reads. “In order for a judge to perform these ministerial duties, it is necessary to know whether the Juvenile Court is composed of one or two divisions.”

Oops, their bad

Commissioner Steve Mulroy, a law professor at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis, said the opinion was a “strained reading of the 1967 act’s text.”

“We should have the Tennessee Supreme Court decide this matter once and for all,” he said.

Person’s suit also alleged a violation of the state open meetings law following the first vote in late 2006, just weeks after Person won an eight-year term as Juvenile Court judge.

Malone acknowledged some private discussion with other commissioners prior to the first vote.

Weeks later, she moved to rescind the action and take a second vote. The resolution was approved again.

The appeals court ruling held the second attempt was all the remedy that was needed to the violation of the state law.

“Where … the governmental body acts quickly and decisively to correct any mistake in its procedure, the primary goal of the Open Meetings Act has been accomplished,” said the ruling. “We do not believe that the Legislature intended to hinder such correction of error, but rather to encourage it.”

...

28. Appeals Court Sides With Person in Juvenile Court Lawsuit -  

The Tennessee Appeals Court ruled Monday that the Shelby County Commission cannot fill a second Juvenile Court judge’s position.

The ruling not only reverses a Chancery Court ruling and plans by the Commission. It also holds that a private act by the Tennessee legislature passed in 1967 which provided for a second judge’s position is unconstitutional.

The commission was not unanimous when it voted to create the position but did not fill it.

The move in early 2007 by the commission prompted Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person Jr. to file the lawsuit that the appeals court ruled on this week.

Commissioner Deidre Malone, who led the charge for the second judge’s position, said Monday she was disappointed by the decision. But she also said she would ask the commission to appeal the ruling to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

“My recommendation is going to be that we appeal,” Malone told The Daily News. “My hope is that we kick it up to the state supreme court.”

Commission chairwoman Joyce Avery was opposed to the second judgeship and praised the court’s decision.

“I think the court ruled in a correct manner. I always felt that Judge Person was elected as judge and he should remain as judge without two judges.”

The differing opinions that remain are an indication that more debate is ahead before the commission decides on an appeal.

“There will be a lot of debate,” Avery said at the end of a nearly four hour meeting with a relatively short agenda that did not include word of the ruling. “As you’ve seen today, commissioners like to talk.”

Malone proposed the second judge’s position following Person’s election in the 2006 county elections. Avery and other critics argued the drive to create another position was a response by those who backed Veronica Coleman-Davis, who lost to Person in the election.

Malone and proponents argued a second and even third or fourth judgeship would not cost the county any more money and could replace a system of Juvenile Court referees who work under the Juvenile Court Judge. The system of referees was put in place during the 40 year plus tenure of the late Kenneth Turner who did not have a law degree.

Person also served as a referee during Turner’s tenure as Juvenile Court Judge.

He argued more than one judge controlling the direction of the court would create “chaos” and insisted the system of referees worked well.

Critics of the current system pointed to other criminal and civil courts that operate efficiently with multiple divisions and one judge who serves as the administrative judge, usually on a rotating basis.

Person voted for passage of the private act in his role as a state legislator before becoming a referee. The legislation unified what had been separate Juvenile Courts in Memphis and Shelby County.

The commission’s action and the appeals court ruling focused on a part of the private act known as “section 20.”

The section created a second division of the unified Juvenile Court and authorized the County Commission to appoint a judge to that division.

“We have concluded, however, that the General Assembly did not create or establish a court because it did not provide for the judgeship,” the appeals court ruled in an opinion written by Judge Patricia J. Cottrell. “While the General Assembly may have begun the process of establishing a court, it did not complete it. Because we find that division 2 was not created in 1967, and, in fact, has not existed since that time, we find this argument by the Commission inapplicable.”

Appeals court judges Frank G. Clement and Richard H. Dinkins agreed for a unanimous opinion.

The ruling noted that both sides in the lawsuit agreed that the Tennessee Constitution bars the legislature from delegating its authority to establish and create “inferior” courts including Juvenile Courts. Citing an 1879 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling, Cottrell wrote that the definition of a court includes “a judge or chancellor performing the judicial functions.” The court also ruled in 1916, “The presence of a judge or judges is necessary as an essential element of a court.”

...

29. UPDATE: Appeals Court Rules No Second Juvenile Court Judge -

The Tennessee Appeals Court ruled today that the Shelby County Commission cannot fill a second Juvenile Court judge’s position.

The ruling not only reverses a Chancery Court ruling and plans by the Commission. It also holds that a private act by the Tennessee legislature passed in 1967 which provided for a second judge’s position is unconstitutional.

30. City Drills Away At Recouping Lee Fees -

The city of Memphis has taken the first step toward recouping settlement money paid in July to the former head of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.

The city has filed a motion to join a lawsuit by attorney Ronald Krelstein, who brought his suit against the city and others shortly after the city paid $426,422 to former MLGW president and CEO Joseph Lee.

31. City Gives Second Thought to Lee Settlement -

Shortly before Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton retired in July, the city paid more than $426,000 to settle a lawsuit with the former head of the city-owned utility company.

But the city now wants to recover some or all of the money awarded to Joseph Lee, the former president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.

32. Political Fault Lines Illuminated In City Attorney Feud -

City Attorney Elbert Jefferson never got the chance to make his case before the Memphis City Council this week. But he did get to keep his job as the council voted down 4-7 a resolution to oust him.

33. Metro Charter Commission Gets Council Go -

The Memphis City Council has approved the creation of a metro charter commission.

The 11-0 vote at Tuesday’s council session makes the consolidation effort the most significant in nearly 40 years. The resolution’s passage means the 15 member commission will be appointed by both mayors – city of Memphis and Shelby County. The charter commission will come up with a charter for a consolidated government that will then go to voters for approval in Nov. 2010.

34. UPDATE: Council Completes Action On Metro Charter Group -

The Memphis City Council has approved the creation of a Metro Charter Commission.

The 11-0 vote at Tuesday’s council session makes the consolidation effort the most significant in nearly 40 years. The resolution’s passage means the 15 member commission will be appointed by both mayors – city of Memphis and Shelby County. The charter commission will come up with a charter for a consolidated government that will then go to voters for approval in Nov. 2010.

35. Legal Fee Controversy Involves More Than Just Jefferson -

A political war is erupting in city government over the fees billed by outside attorneys and law firms that do contract work for the city.

Representatives of those firms during the past several days have been called in for private meetings with the administration of Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery.

36. Lowery Says Jefferson Ouster Up To City Council -

Memphis Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery said Saturday that it will be up to the City Council to resurrect the issue of firing City Attorney Elbert Jefferson.

37. Tempers Flare As Goldin Dissolves Order in Lee Case -

Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin has dissolved an order requiring the former president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division and his attorneys not to spend money they got from a legal settlement with the city of Memphis.

38. UPDATE: Tempers Flare As Goldin Dissolves Order In Lee Case -

Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin has dissolved an order that would have required former MLGW president and CEO Joseph Lee and his attorneys not to spend money they got from a legal settlement with the city of Memphis.

39. Halbert Denies Call For Lowery Ethics Investigation -

City attorney Elbert Jefferson has refused to turn over any paperwork to Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery on what he claims is an “ethics investigation” he is conducting of Lowery.

40. UPDATE: Jefferson Denies Access To Info On Probe To Lowery -

City Attorney Elbert Jefferson has refused to turn over any paperwork to Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery on what he claims is an “ethics investigation” he is conducting of Lowery.

Jefferson made the claim Wednesday during testimony in the city’s Chancery Court lawsuit against Lowery. Jefferson filed the suit in behalf of the city after Lowery attempted to fire Jefferson as his first official act on his first day as mayor. Jefferson said the investigation was requested by City Council member Wanda Halbert who, like Lowery, is a candidate in the Oct. 15 special election for Memphis mayor.

41. One Week Later: Historic Mayoral Era Turns to New Beginnings -

Just more than a week ago, Methodist minister Frank McRae opened a gathering at City Hall that was Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton’s farewell.

McRae talked about what he termed the “passing parade of politicians.”

42. City Attorney Standoff Changes Little With Court Ruling -

Chancellor Walter Evans has ruled Memphis Mayor Myron Lowery did nothing wrong in his move to fire City Attorney Elbert Jefferson.

But at the end of a hearing that took up most of Wednesday afternoon, Evans also ruled that Lowery needs a majority vote from the City Council to replace Jefferson with former U.S. Attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis in the city post.

43. UPDATE: Evans Rules Lowery Needs Majority Council Vote To Oust Jefferson -

Chancellor Walter Evans has ruled Memphis Mayor Myron Lowery did nothing wrong in his move to fire City Attorney Elbert Jefferson.

But at the end of a hearing that took up most of Wednesday afternoon, Evans also ruled that Lowery needs a majority vote from the City Council to replace Jefferson with former U.S. Attorney Veronica Coleman-Davis in the city post.

44. City Attorney Dispute Moves Into Chancery Court Today -

A turbulent turn of office at City Hall moves into a courtroom two blocks away this afternoon.

Memphis Mayor Myron Lowery delayed a City Council vote Tuesday on Veronica Coleman Davis as his nominee to be city attorney.

45. UPDATE: Council Vote On City Attorney Delayed -

Memphis Mayor Myron Lowery today delayed a City Council vote on Veronica Coleman Davis as his nominee to be city attorney.

Lowery told council members he wanted the delay to let a Chancery Court hearing tomorrow resolve any legal issues.

46. New Mayor Lowery Braces for First Council Battle -

Memphis Mayor Pro Tempore Myron Lowery goes to the City Council today with a new nominee for city attorney, former U.S. Attorney Veronica Coleman Davis, and lots of questions from some of his former council colleagues about his dismissal Friday of the old city attorney.

47. UPDATE: Lowery Appoints Coleman-Davis Deputy City Attorney -  

Memphis Mayor Myron Lowery has appointed his choice to be city attorney to be deputy city attorney until the City Council can act on her nomination.

The naming of Veronica Coleman-Davis to the number two spot is the latest twist in a controvery that began minutes after Lowery took the oath of office Friday and fired City Attorney Elbert Jefferson.

Jefferson then filed suit in Chancery Court against Lowery contesting Lowery's decision to fire him. Chancellor Walter Evans issued a preliminary injunction preventing Jefferson's dismissal at least until a hearing before Evans Wednesday afternoon.

On the Drake & Zeke Show on radio station 98.1 The Max, Lowery said until the council acts, Coleman-Davis, a former U.S. Attorney, will be deputy director. Her appointment to that position is immediate and does not require council approval.

Meanwhile, Jefferson's attorney, Ricky E. Wilkins, told The Daily News her confirmation Tuesday as City Attorney would have to come after a council vote to back Jefferson's firing.

"We will ask the court to continue to keep that injunction in place throughout the tenure of Myron Lowery as mayor pro tempore," Wilkins said. "If Myron is able to get the necessary votes to terminate Mr. Jefferson and to get the votes to replace him with a substitute city attorney ... then that's what the process calls for and I think Mr. Jefferson understands that. But Myron Lowery cannot ignore and violate the city charter to satisfy his own political means."

Jefferson was at City Hall over the weekend, escorted by City Council attorney Allan Wade, according to Lowery.

After taking the oath of office Friday afternoon from U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays, Lowery told reporters he had offered Jefferson a severance and a chance to resign the appointed post. Jefferson refused which apparently surprised Lowery since Jefferson had tendered his resignation to outgoing Mayor Willie Herenton earlier in the month and Herenton refused to accept it.

Lowery met with Jefferson in a City Hall stairwell after the swearing in ceremony. Lowery emerged without Jefferson and told reporters he had fired the attorney. Several sources said later that Jefferson was escorted from the building and his parking pass and other identification taken as he was walked to his car and out of City Hall.

Wilkins termed the forcible exit a "low blow" and a "fairly drastic action."

“The legal department has almost been a black hole for dollars,” Lowery said Friday, minutes after the stairwell meeting. “I think that we spend too much money on attorney fees. I think that our city attorney has allowed this to happen without adequate controls on this. And I’m looking for stronger controls in the city attorney’s office.”

“If the mayor pro tempore doesn’t have the power, who does?” Lowery said. “Of course I do.”

Power play

In addition to Coleman-Davis, Lowery will also take the nomination of former council member Jack Sammons as his Chief Administrative Officer to the council Tuesday.

Herenton CAO Keith McGee had retired effective July 4. But when Herenton moved back his resignation date to July 30, McGee extended his stay on a voluntary basis. McGee is working with Lowery on a transitional basis. Lowery said he had hoped Jefferson would work under the same arrangement.

“He wanted to keep the title and the salary that comes with it. So I had to make a decision,” Lowery said. “I wish he had accepted it. … He’s forced me to take this action.”

Lowery said he wants Coleman Davis to examine past city legal bills and expenses.

“I have heard that several individuals have been hired … in the legal department to fill vacancies who were scheduled to start work Monday. I just found this out,” Lowery told reporters. “I want to make sure that we don’t have cronies of our former legal division director who have been hired.”

Those appointments will be examined.

“I don’t want any friends of the division director receiving dollars or any backroom deals outside the scope of the City Council. You know what I’m talking about,” he told reporters. “That is not going to occur under my administration.”

‘Hard work and enthusiasm’

As Lowery moved into the seventh floor mayor’s office Friday at City Hall, council member Harold Collins moved into the council chairman’s office on the fifth floor as part of the transition in power following Herenton’s resignation. Collins indicated his displeasure with the firing of Jefferson and said he wants Lowery and Jefferson to be at Tuesday's council committee sessions to tell their sides of the story.

“It’s a new day at City Hall,” Lowery told a crowd in the Hall of Mayors the day after Herenton’s farewell address in the same hall. Lowery’s guests at the ceremony were Herenton, former Mayor Dick Hackett and J.O. Patterson Jr., the city’s first African-American mayor who served in the top post for 20 days after the resignation of Mayor Wyeth Chandler in 1982. Patterson was City Council chairman at the time. Like Lowery, Patterson also ran in the special election that followed and lost to Hackett, who lost to Herenton nine years later by 142 votes.

“With new life, new individuals, comes hope and promise,” Lowery said. “As mayor, I will promote a moral philosophy of customer service – customer-driven government. … I’m here also to say that I’m going to promote ethical leadership in government.”

One priority will be a new crime fighting strategy, although Lowery was quick to say he likes the direction the police department and those efforts have taken under current Police Director Larry Godwin. The other immediate priority is a more aggressive city cleanup campaign.

Lowery didn’t refer to Herenton directly in any of his comments, but the contrasts were apparent.

“We will be energetic in city government – more productive There’s a phrase, ‘We need to be workhorses, not showhorses.’” Lowery said. “You will not get a lot of catchy phrases from me. But you will get a lot of hard work and enthusiasm.”

The remark came the day after Herenton’s farewell address and press conference in which Herenton repeatedly invoked what looks to be the campaign slogan “Keep It Real” in his bid for the Democratic congressional nomination in 2010.

“As everyone knows, we’ve lost many people during the past several years. I’m going to say come home to Memphis,” Lowery said.

The remark is in contrast to one of Herenton’s most cited quotes from his 18-year tenure. When asked about citizens moving out of Memphis for the suburbs, Herenton responded by saying he had no problem with that and adding “goodbye.”

...

48. UPDATE: Lowery Promises 'New Day' for Memphis -

Memphis Mayor Myron Lowery fired City Attorney Elbert Jefferson on his first day in office, apparently during a meeting in a City Hall stairwell.

After taking the oath of office Friday afternoon from U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays, Lowery told reporters he had offered Jefferson a severance and a chance to resign the appointed post. Jefferson refused and Lowery met with him in a City Hall stairwell after the swearing in ceremony. Lowery emerged without Jefferson and told reporters he had fired the attorney.

49. Bank of Bartlett Extends Its Reach to Downtown -

Bartlett and Downtown Memphis are separated by about 15 miles, what could be perceived as a political and cultural divide and different economic centers of gravity.

All of which are reasons why the millions of dollars pumped into the Downtown economy over at least the past decade by Bank of Bartlett, which was established in the small town of the same name in 1980, might be easy to overlook. But those reasons also put into context the bank’s consistent and generous investment in Downtown projects of all stripes.

50. Juvenile Judge Stay Should Be Lifted, Commission Votes -

Shelby County Commissioners voted Wednesday to seek to lift a stay of a Chancery Court ruling that would allow them to appoint a second Juvenile Court judge.

The commission's attorney in the matter, Leo Bearman, is expected to file the motion with Chancellor Kenny Armstrong soon, said Commissioner Deidre Malone.

51. Juvenile Court Recommendations Call for Overhaul -

The possibility of a second Juvenile Court judge for Shelby County is an issue other judges in other courts will decide.

The high-profile change is but the most basic of several recommended by a County Commission committee. The ad hoc committee has been reviewing court operations since September, when many of its members and Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person took office. Its discussion has been just as spirited as the public back-and-forth with Person.

52. Events -

The Center City Revenue Finance Corp. meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the boardroom at the Center City Commission office, 114 N. Main St. Call 575-0540.

The National Association of Women Business Owners meets from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Crescent Club, 6075 Poplar Ave., ninth floor. Veronica Coleman-Davis, president and CEO of the National Institute for Law & Equity, is the guest speaker. Discussion topic is "Testing the Glass Ceiling." Advance registration is $25 for members; $30 for members. Call 844-3738 or visit www.nawbomemphis.org.

53. Local Attorneys Get Turn as Judge, Jury -

Starting over is the theme that fills every corner of David S. Kennedy's courtroom.

He is chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee, which each year hears more than 20,000 pleas from debtors looking for a financial fresh start.

54. Public Administrator Named for Probate Court -

The Shelby County Commission appointed Scott Peatross to the position of public administrator in Shelby County Probate Court. Peatross is a partner in the law firm of Bateman Gibson LLC. He graduated from Rhodes College and Tulane Law School.

55. Archived Article: Memos - Veronica F

Veronica F. Coleman-Davis was appointed to Bank of Bartletts board of directors. She is a former U.S. Attorney in Memphis. She is president and chief executive officer of the National Institute for Law and Equity. Molly Okeon was promo...

56. Archived Article: Mba P2 - Bar announces election nominees

Bar announces election nominees

David Wade, Memphis Bar Association president, has released the report of the nominations and elections committee.

The 2003 president is Irma W. Merrill. The vice president is ...

57. Archived Article: Memphis 2005 (lead) - Business rolls out for Memphis 2005 Business rolls out for Memphis 2005 review By MARY DANDO The Daily News About 50 members of the business community met Thursday in the pavilion of St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital for the first annual year-end...

58. Archived Article: Law Briefs 2 - On Jan Twenty-two attorneys from Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2001-2002. Attorneys from the Memphis office are E. Franklin Childress, Glen Reid Jr. and William S. S...

59. Archived Article: Benchmark - Broker sentenced on conspiracy and money laundering charges Broker sentenced on charges of conspiracy, money laundering A broker with a New York based broker-dealer firm was sentenced with conspiracy to defraud the federal government by engaging in ...

60. Archived Article: Benchmark - U U.S., Dunavant settle case for $4.5 million Memphis-based Dunavant Enterprises Inc. agreed to pay a $4.5 million claims settlement in connection to Upland Cotton User Marketing Certificate or "Step II" program, said Veronica F. Coleman, ...

61. Archived Article: Comm Focus (forum) - By STACEY WIEDOWER Issues forum lets teen voices be heard By STACEY WIEDOWER The Daily News Memphis teens enjoy the benefits of living in a metropolitan community they can go to restaurants, shop in the malls, watch movies in any number of theaters ...

62. Archived Article: Benchmark - Benchmark: Federal grand jury indicts former postal employees A federal grand jury Monday returned indictments charging three former postal employees with mail fraud, wire fraud and making fraudulent statements to obtain federal employees disability...

63. Archived Article: Law (sexual Assault) - By STACEY PETSCHAUER Developing defenses New initiative brings together local groups to reduce the number of sexual assaults By STACEY PETSCHAUER The Daily News Although offense rates have been decreasing steadily for many types of crimes in recent ...

64. Archived Article: Calendar - Oct Oct. 26 The League of Women Voters will meet at 7 p.m. at the Poplar-White Station Public Library, 5094 Poplar Ave. The topic will be Shelby Farms. The speakers will be Dr. Steve Eppel, a member of Friends of Shelby Farms, and City Council membe...

65. Archived Article: Calendar - Oct Oct. 20 The Institute of Management Accountants will meet from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Rhodes College. The speakers will be Dan Walker of Thompson Dunavant PLC and Bob Morris of Baker, Donaldson, Bearman and Caldwell. Their topic will be the fundame...

66. Archived Article: Calendar - Oct Oct. 13 The Society for Human Resource Management and the American Society for Training and Development will meet jointly at 11:30 a.m. at the Marriott, 2625 Thousand Oaks Drive. The speaker will be Judy Bell, vice president of Memphis Area Teac...

67. Archived Article: Calendar - Oct Oct. 5 The Memphis Area Radio Stations Association will sponsor a seminar from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ridgeway Inn featuring Norm Goldsmith, president of Radio Marketing Concepts Inc. For more information, call 678-3176. Oct. 6 The National ...

68. Archived Article: Calendar - Sept Sept. 28 The League of Women Voters will hold a general meeting at the Poplar-White Station Library, 5094 Poplar Ave. The speaker will be Shelby County Commissioner Mark Norris, whose topic will be "Truth in Land Use." For more inform...

69. Archived Article: Calendar - Sept Sept. 21 The Society of Professional Journalists will meet at noon at the Fogelman Executive Center at the University of Memphis. The speaker will be author and screenwriter Elaine Zimmerman. The cost of the buffet luncheon is $10. For more inf...

70. Archived Article: Tech Briefs - SCB Computer Technology Inc SCB Computer Technology Inc.s wholly owned subsidiary, The Partners Group, has signed a $7.6 million agreement with Riverwood International Corp. Currently, Partners provides outsourcing services to Riverwood supporting i...

71. Archived Article: Tech Briefs - ?;   R F?@ C...

72. Archived Article: Kiddie Guns.st - Memphis City Schools has developed a re-entry program for children, some of whom have been expelled for carrying guns in school U.S. attorney returns indictments on teens By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News Veronica Coleman, U.S. attorney for the Wes...

73. Archived Article: Calendar - July 14 July 14 Professional Secretaries International will meet at 6 p.m. at the Marriott, 2625 Thousand Oaks Blvd. The program will be a presentation on the Titanic exhibit by Marjorie Gerald. The cost is $13. For more information, call Bonita Cum...

74. Archived Article: Calendar - July 7 July 7 The Society for Technical Communication will meet at the Unicorn restaurant at the corner of Quince and Kirby. Social hour is at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting begins at 7 p.m. The speaker will be Mark Satterfield, a technical writer for B...

75. Archived Article: Calendar - July 9 July 9 The World Affairs Council of Memphis, the Tennessee Governors School for International Studies, the Mid-South Environmental Forum and the Memphis Bar Association will present "Environmental Security and Opportunities for U.S. Inve...

76. Archived Article: Govt Briefs - Consumer prices in the South rose 0 Consumer prices in the South rose 0.3 percent in February, not seasonally adjusted, to a level of 156.1, according to Janet S. Rankin, regional commissioner for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of L...

77. Archived Article: $2.5 Mil Law Grant - 1-23-97 notes $2.5 mil law.gs Public input sought in spending $2.5 million law enforcement grant By GABRIELLE C.L. SONGE The Daily News How do you John and Jane Q. Public want to spend a $2.5 million law enforcement grant? Public officials want to k...

78. Archived Article: Law Briefs - The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct The Tennessee Supreme Court on Oct. 28 entered an Agreed Order of Enforcement adjudging Henry M. Beaty Jr., who is currently under suspension, to be in willful contempt of court and extending the current suspension...